Thursday, April 25, 2013

Digital Assets and Estate Planning

In addition to a will and perhaps a trust, proper estate planning includes making an inventory of assets that you own.  When considering your assets, be sure to include your digital estate.  Every year, a larger percentage of our lives and business involve online interaction and most people own digital assets even if they do not realize it.  Email accounts, blogs, websites, social media accounts, online banking accounts and music are just a few of the digital assets you may own. 

One way to manage your online assets is to use a digital afterlife service.  Such services organize your accounts, passwords and online information and are quickly becoming popular as a method of planning for your digital estate. 

Digital giant, Google also recently introduced a feature that allows you to decide in advance what to do with your Google related accounts after you die.  The tool controls many different Google services including Gmail, Google Plus, Blogger, Picassa, YouTube and several others. 

Saturday, April 13, 2013


Assault is a common crime and arises when a person injures someone else.  The level of crime is based on how serious the injury is and may also depend on whether the injury was caused with a dangerous instrument. 

It is important to note that a dangerous instrument does not have to be inherently dangerous and can be merely an object that is used in a dangerous way and has the potential to inflict serious bodily harm.  A vehicle, a rock or even a champagne bottle in a bar fight can be dangerous instruments if they are used to hurt someone. 

First Degree Assault
This level of assault is the most serious and is charged as a Class B felony.  A person commits assault 1° by intentionally or knowingly causing serious bodily injury to another person. 

Second Degree Assault
You might be charged with assault 2° if you intentionally or recklessly cause substantial bodily injury to someone else or if you cause any bodily injury with a dangerous instrument.  Assault 2° is charged as a Class C felony. 

Third Degree Assault
Assault 3° is a misdemeanor.  There are several circumstances when this crime might be charged.  Assault 3° typically arises when you intentionally cause bodily injury to someone else or if you hurt another person by doing something a reasonable person would not have done with a dangerous instrument. 

If this level of assault occurs in a fight where both people are fighting willingly, it is charged as a petty misdemeanor. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

How to Make a Valid Will in Hawaii

A will is an important document as it can control a considerable amount of money, assets and property and make significant life decisions.  If you make a will, it is essential to make sure there are no questions about its validity.  Specific language and clear wording can prevent disputes after you die and give you peace of mind that your wishes will be carried out as quickly as possible. 

Hawaiian law describes several important requirements to make a valid will.  Hawaii Revised Statute 560 2-502

Proper Age
You must be at least 18 years old to make a legally binding will in Hawaii. 

You must sign your will in front of two witnesses.  In some states, witnesses to a will signing must be “uninterested,” however, in Hawaii, the witnesses may be “interested.”  An “interested” witness is a person who is a beneficiary under the will.  The witnesses do not have to read the document, they must only know that you are signing your will. Hawaii Revised Statute 560 2-505

In Writing
A valid will must be written.  Some people attempt to simplify matters by handwriting their will.  Such a document is called a holographic will and is legal in Hawaii.  A holographic will often makes matters more complex than a printed document drafted by an attorney because the handwriting must be proven to be yours.  Many holographic wills are not witnessed and handwriting experts or people familiar with your handwriting must testify that the writing is yours. 

Print or type your will.  Holographic wills can make probate difficult.  
It is often difficult for a court to determine your true intent from a holographic will.  For example, if you bequest “$10,000 to Auntie Em” the court will not know if you meant your elderly neighbor Emaline who you visit daily or your mother’s sister Aunt Emily who you haven’t seen for years but decides she would like to have $10,000. 

Self-Proving Affidavit
A self-proving affidavit is not a requirement under Hawaii law but wills drafted by a knowledgeable attorney should include one.  This affidavit is a sworn and notarized statement saying that you intend this document to be your will.  If you do not include a self-proving affidavit with your will, your personal representative will have to prove to the court that the will was made by you.